Tuesday, December 30, 2008

December Daring Bakers Challenge: French Yule Log

french yule log

"Is it that time of the month again?" OCT asked when he saw me running with mixing bowl in hand, between the laptop and the kitchen.

Indeed, it's time for another Daring Bakers' Challenge. I missed the November challenge when I went home for vacation. And I almost give the french yule log amiss too, because of my unusual tight schedule this month. In the end, I decided to do it, because this may be my last Daring Bakers' Challenge.

french yule log

There's some exciting change around here, which will prevent me from spending as much time as I'd love in my kitchen. But no, I am not pregnant. In case you wonder.

I am moving to Chicago on Jan 1 alone and will stay in the Windy City for another 6 months. I am excited but at the same time apprehensive of the challenges that lies ahead. More on that in my next post.

This month's challenge is brought to us by the adventurous Hilda from Saffron and Blueberry and Marion from Il En Faut Peu Pour Etre Heureux.They have chosen a French Yule Log by Flore from Florilege Gourmand. It turned out to be the most laborious Daring Bakers challenges I have participated. Perhaps it's my lack of foresight. I should have made detailed plan when making desserts of multiple components.

Well, it's almost 2009, and I don't want to spend the remaining time in year 2008 whining on the technical difficulties I faced when tackling the yule log, (such as the hot sugar syrup that harden too fast in the mousse and the never setting icing!) Neither should I lament on the miscalculation of dacquoise surface required to cover the log. That was all, as the saying goes- water under the bridge.


I am not entirely happy with the asthetic of the cake. I know I could do better. But that's under my 2009 resolutions. For now, I am going to dig in and enjoy a slice of cake before all the madness of moving ensues.....

Check out all the delicious french yule logs that dropped on blogsphere this festive season here.


French Yule Log

Element #1 Dacquoise Biscuit (Almond Cake)

Preparation time: 10 mn + 15 mn for baking

Equipment: 2 mixing bowls, hand or stand mixer with whisk attachment, spatula, baking pan such as a 10”x15” jelly-roll pan, parchment paper

Note: You can use the Dacquoise for the bottom of your Yule Log only, or as bottom and top layers, or if using a Yule log mold (half-pipe) to line your entire mold with the biscuit. Take care to spread the Dacquoise accordingly. Try to bake the Dacquoise the same day you assemble the log to keep it as moist as possible.

2.8 oz (3/4cup + 1Tbsp / 80g) almond meal
1.75 oz (1/2 cup / 50g) confectioner’s sugar
2Tbsp (15g) all-purpose flour
3.5oz (100g / ~100ml) about 3 medium egg whites
1.75 oz (4 Tbsp / 50g) granulated sugar

Finely mix the almond meal and the confectioner's sugar. (If you have a mixer, you can use it by pulsing the ingredients together for no longer than 30 seconds).

Sift the flour into the mix. Beat the eggs whites, gradually adding the granulated sugar until stiff. Pour the almond meal mixture into the egg whites and blend delicately with a spatula.

Grease a piece of parchment paper and line your baking pan with it.Spread the batter on a piece of parchment paper to an area slightly larger than your desired shape (circle, long strip etc...) and to a height of 1/3 inches (8mm).

Bake at 350°F (180°C) for approximately 15 minutes (depends on your oven), until golden.

Let cool and cut to the desired shape.

Element #2 Dark Chocolate Mousse

Preparation time: 20mn

Equipment: stand or hand mixer with whisk attachment, thermometer, double boiler or equivalent, spatula

Note: You will see that a Pate a Bombe is mentioned in this recipe. A Pate a Bombe is a term used for egg yolks beaten with a sugar syrup, then aerated. It is the base used for many mousse and buttercream recipes. It makes mousses and buttercreams more stable, particularly if they are to be frozen, so that they do not melt as quickly or collapse under the weight of heavier items such as the crème brulee insert.
In the Vanilla Mousse variation, pastry cream is made to the same effect.
In the Mango Mousse variation, Italian meringue is made to the same effect. Italian meringue is a simple syrup added to egg whites as they are beaten until stiff. It has the same consistency as Swiss meringue (thick and glossy) which we have used before in challenge recipes as a base for buttercream.
The Whipped Cream option contains no gelatin, so beware of how fast it may melt.
Gelatin is the gelifying agent in all of the following recipes, but if you would like to use agar-agar, here are the equivalencies: 8g powdered gelatin = 1 (0.25 oz) envelope powdered gelatin = 1 Tbsp powdered gelatin = 1 Tbsp Agar-Agar.
1 Tbsp. of agar-agar flakes is equal to 1 tsp. of agar-agar powder.

2.5 sheets gelatin or 5g / 1 + 1/4 tsp powdered gelatin
1.5 oz (3 Tbsp / 40g) granulated sugar
1 ½ tsp (10g) glucose or thick corn syrup
0.5 oz (15g) water
50g egg yolks (about 3 medium)
6.2 oz (175g) dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
1.5 cups (350g) heavy cream (35% fat content)

Soften the gelatin in cold water. (If using powdered gelatin, follow the directions on the package.)

Make a Pate a Bombe: Beat the egg yolks until very light in colour (approximately 5 minutes until almost white).

Cook the sugar, glucose syrup and water on medium heat for approximately 3 minutes (if you have a candy thermometer, the mixture should reach 244°F (118°C). If you do not have a candy thermometer, test the sugar temperature by dipping the tip of a knife into the syrup then into a bowl of ice water, if it forms a soft ball in the water then you have reached the correct temperature.

Add the sugar syrup to the beaten yolks carefully by pouring it into the mixture in a thin stream while continuing to beat the yolks. You can do this by hand but it’s easier to do this with an electric mixer. Continue beating until cool (approximately 5 minutes). The batter should become thick and foamy.

In a double boiler or equivalent, heat 2 tablespoons (30g) of cream to boiling. Add the chopped chocolate and stir until melted and smooth.

Whip the remainder of the cream until stiff.Pour the melted chocolate over the softened gelatin, mixing well. Let the gelatin and chocolate cool slightly and then stir in ½ cup (100g) of WHIPPED cream to temper. Add the Pate a Bombe. Add in the rest of the WHIPPED cream (220g) mixing gently with a spatula.

Element #3 Dark Chocolate Ganache Insert

Preparation time: 10mn

Equipment: pan, whisk. If you have plunging mixer (a vertical hand mixer used to make soups and other liquids), it comes in handy.

Note: Because the ganache hardens as it cools, you should make it right before you intend to use it to facilitate piping it onto the log during assembly. Please be careful when caramelizing the sugar and then adding the cream. It may splatter and boil.

1.75 oz (4 Tbsp / 50g) granulated sugar
4.5oz (2/3 cup – 1 Tbsp/ 135g) heavy cream (35% fat content)
5 oz (135g) dark chocolate, finely chopped
3Tbsp + 1/2tsp (45g) unsalted butter softened

Make a caramel: Using the dry method, melt the sugar by spreading it in an even layer in a small saucepan with high sides. Heat over medium-high heat, watching it carefully as the sugar begins to melt. Never stir the mixture. As the sugar starts to melt, swirl the pan occasionally to allow the sugar to melt evenly. Cook to dark amber color.

While the sugar is melting, heat the cream until boiling. Pour cream into the caramel and stir thoroughly. Be very careful as it may splatter and boil. Pour the hot caramel-milk mixture over the dark chocolate. Wait 30 seconds and stir until smooth.

Add the softened butter and whip hard and fast (if you have a plunging mixer use it). The chocolate should be smooth and shiny.

Element #4 Chocolate Crisp Insert

Preparation time: 10 mn

Equipment: Small saucepan.
Double boiler (or one small saucepan in another), wax paper

3.5 oz (100g) milk chocolate
1 2/3 Tbsp (25g) unsalted butter
2 Tbsp (1 oz / 30g) praline
1 oz. rice krispies

Melt the chocolate and butter in a double boiler.

Add the praline and the rice Krispies. Mix quickly to thoroughly coat with the chocolate.

Spread between two sheets of wax paper to a size slightly larger than your desired shape. Refrigerate until hard.

Element #5 Vanilla Crème Brulée Insert

Preparation time: 15mn + 1h infusing + 1h baking

Equipment: Small saucepan, mixing bowl, baking mold, wax paper

Note: The vanilla crème brulée can be flavored differently by simply replacing the vanilla with something else e.g. cardamom, lavender, etc...

1/2 cup (115g) heavy cream (35% fat content)
½ cup (115g) whole milk
4 medium-sized (72g) egg yolks
0.75 oz (2 Tbsp / 25g) granulated sugar
1 vanilla bean

Heat the milk, cream, and scraped vanilla bean to just boiling. Remove from the stove and let the vanilla infuse for about 1 hour.

Whisk together the sugar and egg yolks (but do not beat until white). Pour the vanilla-infused milk over the sugar/yolk mixture. Mix well.

Wipe with a very wet cloth and then cover your baking mold (whatever shape is going to fit on the inside of your Yule log/cake) with parchment paper. Pour the cream into the mold and bake at 210°F (100°C) for about 1 hour or until firm on the edges and slightly wobbly in the center.

Element #6 Dark Chocolate Icing

Preparation time: 25 minutes (10mn if you don’t count softening the gelatin)

Equipment: Small bowl, small saucepan

Note: Because the icing gelifies quickly, you should make it at the last minute.
For other gelatin equivalencies or gelatin to agar-agar equivalencies, look at the notes for the mousse component.

4g / ½ Tbsp powdered gelatin or 2 sheets gelatin
¼ cup (60g) heavy cream (35 % fat content)
2.1 oz (5 Tbsp / 60g) granulated sugar
¼ cup (50g) water
1/3 cup (30g) unsweetened cocoa powder

Soften the gelatin in cold water for 15 minutes. Boil the rest of the ingredients and cook an additional 3 minutes after boiling.Add gelatin to the chocolate mixture. Mix well.

Let cool while checking the texture regularly. As soon as the mixture is smooth and coats a spoon well (it is starting to gelify), use immediately.

Assembling the yule log:
1) Line your mold or pan, whatever its shape, with rhodoid (clear hard plastic, I usually use transparencies cut to the desired shape, it’s easier to find than cellulose acetate which is what rhodoid translates to in English) OR plastic film. Rhodoid will give you a smoother shape but you may have a hard time using it depending on the kind of mold you’re using.

Cut the Dacquoise into a shape fitting your mold and set it in there. If you are using an actual Yule mold which is in the shape of a half-pipe, you want the Dacquoise to cover the entire half-pipe portion of the mold.

Pipe one third of the Mousse component on the Dacquoise.

Take the Creme Brulee Insert out of the freezer at the last minute and set on top of the mousse. Press down gently to slightly ensconce it in the mousse.

Pipe second third of the Mousse component around and on top of the Creme Brulee Insert.

Cut the Praline/Crisp Insert to a size slightly smaller than your mold so that it can be surrounded by mousse. Lay it on top of the mousse you just piped into the mold.

Pipe the last third of the Mousse component on top of the Praline Insert.

Freeze for a few hours to set. Take out of the freezer.

Pipe the Ganache Insert onto the frozen mousse leaving a slight eidge so that ganache doesn’t seep out when you set the Dacquoise on top.

Close with the last strip of Dacquoise. (in my case, the praline chocolate crisp insert)

Freeze until the next day.


Clumbsy Cookie said...

Don't be hard on yourself, It looks great. I like that you put the biscuit arround it. Happy new year! And happy moving to Chicago!

Cynthia's Blog said...

You don't need to feel bad about the asthetics of this one. It looks stunning. Good Luck in Chicago

Engineer Baker said...

Even if you weren't entirely pleased by the aesthetics, I think it's drop-dead gorgeous. Good luck with your move to the Windy City!

Y said...

Well I think your log looks awesome, and I look forward to reading more about your news for the New Year.

Patsyk said...

Well, it looks like it turned out beautifully!

Anonymous said...

looks so good!!! Wish you have a wonderful time in Chicago!

Anonymous said...

i think it looks entrancing!

Anonymous said...

Looks quite alright to me... Hope the Chicago winter isn't too rough this year!

Maria said...

Gorgeous yule log! Good luck with the move! I am jealous. I love the Windy City! Happy New Year too!

Snooky doodle said...

this looks so festive and delicious :) I love it . Happy New Year

Maggie said...

The currants look fantastic on top and I think your use of extra crisp on the bottom was a good idea. Good luck surviving Chicago in Jan!

terri@adailyobsession said...

this looks like the works of a french chef! n tt bunch of red currants turned out simply gorgeous. do u use a macro lens? btw, i got a new replacemt for the d90 but i don't think i'll ever post any pics frm it bc it's just so hard to learn to use a new camera.
the move is exciting! pls continue to post frm the windy city.

Mandy said...

hey Terri,

thanks! glad to hear that you got the replacement! I know what you mean....I was hesitant to use my DSLR when i first got it. Just turn it on, and snap away! (even just using the auto mode!)Once you get acquinted with your new camera, then you will be more comfortable trying other modes.

For the pics, I use my usual 50mm fixed lens, which Yi played with the other day. :)

breadchick said...

I think your log looks perfectly fine to me.

Good luck in Chicago!

Aimei said...

Your log looks absolutely gorgeous to me. :) Happy New Year in the year of 2009 to you and all the best in Chicago! :D

Stardust said...

The lengthy recipe is good enough to help me dismiss this recipe in my entire life! I think you've done a great job nevertheless!!

Take care during moving, happy new year and all the best!!

Cookie baker Lynn said...

Your yule log look delicious. How did you wait to eat it long enough to take pictures?

Happy New Year and blessings on your time in Chicago!

Anonymous said...

Absolutely gorgeous! Bravo! All you Daring Bakers are inspirational, I don't know how you do it. :)

Happy New Year!

Venus ~ Vi said...

Hi Mandy~

This is just lovely! I agree with you that it was quite challenging but hey, we did it!

Hope you'll have a smooth move to Chicago.

Anonymous said...

Looks great!
Good luck with the unpacking.

Anonymous said...

looks very delicious :-)! And your pics are great!!

ostwestwind said...

I think your log looks absolutely beautiful, great work, well done!

Ulrike from Küchenlatein

Anonymous said...

Beautiful! I love the bisquit around the log, great idea. Good luck with your move.

tigerfish said...

I know X'mas is over but I still want that log cake!!!
Good luck in Chicago and hope to read your posting soon :)

Happy New Year!

Anonymous said...

Happy new year 2009
Good Blog

Hayley said...

Your Yule Log is beautiful! Great photography, too!

Vera said...

Gorgeous log, Mandy! Happy New Year and good luck!

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